By ADAM SHINDER
Recorder Sports Staff
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- After being held to 33 or fewer points in each of their first three games this girls basketball season, the Amsterdam Lady Rams were collectively relieved Tuesday night against Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons when senior point guard Ashlee McDonald converted a steal into a fast break layup to push Amsterdam's total to 34 points with 4:26 left in the third quarter.
When Kelly Paris' putback got the Lady Rams across the 40-point barrier less than two minutes later, it was even sweeter -- and the team let head coach Eric Duemler know it.
"As soon as we got 40, we all stood and said, 'We got 40, Coach,'" McDonald said. "He was like, 'Yup, you got 40.' It's so much better, and now this will start us off on a streak, hopefully."
Amsterdam didn't stop there, pulling away for a quick and easy 53-19 victory over the Lady Knights that took barely more than an hour to complete and got the Lady Rams back to a .500 record at 2-2 overall and 1-1 in Big 10 play.
Cristiana Johnson led the Lady Rams with 13 points, Paris chipped in nine points to go along with seven rebounds and McDonald scored six points while dishing out six assists to lead the charge for an Amsterdam team that was desperate for some positive momentum after consecutive losses to Catholic Central and Johnstown.
"It was nice to score over 50 points," Duemler said. "The girls have been working hard -- working on the offense, working on their shooting, working on making layups -- and when we were patient, we got some good looks. That's all you can hope for as a coach, is to get some good looks."
Though Amsterdam's offense was still a bit shaky coming out of the gate, the Lady Rams took control of the game when Johnson drilled a 3-pointer late in the first quarter that put AHS on top 9-7 and set off a 23-4 run to close the first half. Coming out of halftime, the Lady Rams put the game completely out of reach by outscoring ND-BG 16-6 in the third quarter to open up a 28-point lead after 24 minutes.
Defensively, Amsterdam frustrated the Lady Knights with several different schemes, though it was the Lady Rams' 3-2 zone that proved the most effective in shutting down the Bishop Gibbons offense. Talya Williams led the Lady Knights with nine points, but six of those came in the opening six minutes of the game, and as the evening wore on ND-BG's shooters often had trouble even hitting the rim or backboard with their jumpers.
"Our 3-2, we used that against Johnstown the whole game, kept them to (36) points, and that was our best defense again tonight," Duemler said. "The girls are pretty good at it. We've got Albany coming up, so we'll see how good our zone is."
While Tuesday's performance against an overmatched Lady Knights team wasn't the clearest barometer of what the Lady Rams need to work on with four games in the books, the win was a sorely needed shot in the arm after what had been a frustrating prior week.
"It brought up our confidence it made us feel a lot better after two bad ones that we had," Johnson said. "That kind of brought us down a little bit, but this definitely raised our spirits, brought us all together as a team again."
With a week to prepare for a difficult game on the road against Big 10 favorite Albany, Duemler is happy that his team has some momentum back in its corner.
"We'll test ourselves against Albany, one of the premier teams in the section," he said. "If we're not winning, we're learning."